on Monday, and that Dolby has provided extra stools for them.
Mr. Charles PARKER HOUSE, BOSTON, U.S.,
Dickens. Saturday, Thirtieth November, 1867.
MY DEAR CHARLEY,
You will have heard before now how fortunate I was on
my voyage, and how I was not sick for a moment. These screws
are tremendous ships for carrying on, and for rolling, and their
vibration is rather distressing. But my little cabin, being for'ard
of the machinery, was in the best part of the vessel, and I had as
much air in it, night and day, as I chose. The saloon being kept
absolutely without air, I mostly dined in my own den, in spite of
my being allotted the post of honour on the right hand of the
The tickets for the first four readings here (the only readings
announced) were all sold immediately. The tickets for the first
four readings in New York (the only readings announced there
also) were on sale yesterday, and were all sold in a few hours.
Engagements of any kind and every kind I steadily refuse, being
resolved to take what is to be taken myself. Dolby is nearly
worked off his legs ; nothing can exceed his energy and good
humour, and he is extremely popular everywhere. My great
desire is to avoid much travelling, and to try to get the people to
come to me, instead of my going to them. If I can effect this to
any moderate extent, I shall be saved a great deal of knocking
As they don't seem (Americans who have heard me on their
travels excepted) to have the least idea here of what the readings
are like, and as they are accustomed to mere readings out of a
book, I am inclined to think the excitement will increase when I
shall have begun. Everybody is very kind and considerate, and I
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 645
have a number of old friends here, at the Borland connected with
the University. I am now negotiating to bring out the dramatic
version of " No Thoroughfare " at New York. It is quite upon
the cards that it may turn up trumps.
I was interrupted in that place by a call from my old secretary
in the States, Mr. Putnam. It was quite affecting to see his de-
light in meeting his old master again. And when I told him that
Anne was married, and that I had (unacknowledged) grandchildren,
he laughed and cried together. I suppose you don't remember
Longfellow, though he remembers you in a black velvet frock very
well. He is now white-haired and white-bearded, but remarkably
handsome. He still lives in his old house, where his beautiful wife
was burnt to death. I dined with him the other day, and could not
get the terrific scene out of my imagination. She was in a blaze
in an instant, rushed into his arms with a wild cry, and never
My love to Bessie, and to Mekitty, and all the babbies.
Ever, my dear Charley, your affectionate Father.
Tuesday, Third December, 1867.
Success last night beyond description or exaggeration. The
whole city is quite frantic about it to-day, and it is impossible
that prospects could be more brilliant.
PARKER HOUSK, BOSTON, Mi
Sunday, First December, 1867. Wcken*
I received yours of the Eighteenth November, yesterday.
As I left Halifax in the Cuba that very day, you probably saw
us telegraphed in The Times on the Nineteenth.
I think you had best in future (unless I give you intimation to
the contrary) address your letters to me, at the Westminster Hotel,
Irving Place, New York City. It is a more central position than
this, and we are likely to be much more there than here. I am
going to set up a brougham in New York, and keep my rooms at
They are said to be a very quiet audience here, appreciative but
not demonstrative. I shall try to change their character a little.
I have been going on very well. A horrible custom obtains in
these parts of asking you to dinner somewhere at half-past two,
and to supper somewhere else about eight. I have run t
gauntlet more than once, and its effect is, that there is no day
for any useful purpose, and that the length of the evening
multiplied by a hundred. Yesterday I dined witli a club at
past two, and came back here at half-past eight with a g
646 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKEXS.
impression that it was at least two o'clock in the morning. Two
days before I dined with Longfellow at half-past two, and came
back at eight, supposing it to be midnight. To-day we have a
state dinner-party in our rooms at six, Mr. and Mrs. Fields, and
Mr. and Mrs. Bigelow. (He is a friend of Forster's, and was
American Minister in Paris.) There are no negro waiters here,
all the servants are Irish willing, but not able. The dinners and
wines are very good. I keep our own rooms well ventilated by
opening the windows, but no window is ever opened in the halls
or passages, and they are so overheated by a great furnace, that
they make me faint and sick. The air is like that of a pre- Adamite
ironing-day in full blast. Your respected parent is immensely
popular in Boston society, and its cordiality and unaffected hearti-
ness are charming. I wish I could carry it with me.
The leading New York papers have sent men over for to-morrow
night with instructions to telegraph columns of descriptions. Great
excitement and expectation everywhere. Fields says he has looked
forward to it so long that he knows he will die at five minutes to
At the New York barriers, where the tickets are on sale and
the people ranged as at the Paris theatres, speculators went up
and down offering "twenty dollars for anybody's place." The
money was in no case accepted. One man sold two tickets for
the second, third, and fourth night " for one ticket for the first,
fifty dollars " (about seven pounds ten shillings) " and a brandy
cocktail," which is an iced bitter drink. The weather has been
rather muggy and languid until yesterday, when there was the
coldest wind blowing that I ever felt. In the night it froze very
hard, and to-day the sky is beautiful.
Tuesday, Third December.
Most magnificent reception last night, and most signal and
complete success. Nothing could be more triumphant. The
people will hear of nothing else and talk of nothing else. Nothing
that was ever done here, they all agree, evoked any approach to
such enthusiasm. I was quite as cool and quick as if I were
reading at Greenwich, and went at it accordingly. My love to
Mr. and Mrs. Hulkes and the boy, and to Mr. and Mrs. Malleson.*
M. Charles PARKER HOUSE, BOSTON,
Third December, 1867.
MY DEAE FECHTER,
I have been very uneasy about you, seeing in the paper
that you were taken ill on the stage. But a letter from Georgy
The nearest neighbours at Higham. and intimate friends.
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 647
this morning reassures me by giving me a splendid account of your
triumphant last night at the Lyceum.
I hope to bring out our Play* with Wallack in New York, and
to have it played in many other parts of the States. I have sent
to Wilkie for models, etc. If I waited for time to do more than
write you my love, I should miss the mail to-morrow. Take my
love, then, my dear fellow, and believe me ever
BOSTON, Wednesday, Fourth December, 1867. Mlw
MY DEAREST GEORGY, Hogarth.
I find that by going off to the Cuba myself this morning I
can send you the enclosed for Mary Boyle (I don't know how to
address her), whose usual flower for my button-hole was produced
in the most extraordinary manner here hist Monday night ! All
well and prosperous.
BOSTON, Fourth December, 1867. Miss Mary
MY DEAR MEERY,
You can have no idea of the glow of pleasure and amaze-
ment with which I saw your remembrance of me lying on my
dressing-table here last Monday night. Whosoever undertook
that commission accomplished it to a miracle. But you must go
away four thousand miles, and have such a token conveyed to y<m,
before you can quite appreciate the feeling of receiving it. Ten
thousand loving thanks.
Immense success here, and unbounded enthusiasm. My largest
expectations far surpassed.
Ever your affectionate
WESTMINSTER HOTEL, IUVING PLACE, NEW YOKK CITY,
Wednesday, Eleventh December, 1867.
MY DEAREST MAMIE,
Dolby sends you a few papers by this post. You will see
from their tone what a success it is.
We are now selling (at the hall) the tickets for the four read-
ings of next week. At nine o'clock this morning there were two
thousand people in waiting, and they had begun to assemble in
the bitter cold as early as two o'clock. All night long Dolby and
our man have been stamping tickets (immediately over my head,
by-the-bye, and keeping me awake). This hotel is quite as quiet
as Mivart's, in Brook Street. It is not very much larger,
are American hotels close by, with five hundred bedrooms, and I
* " No Thoroughfare. "
648 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
don't know how many boarders ; but this is conducted on what is
called " the European principle," and is an admirable mixture of a
first-class French and English house. I keep a very smart carriage
and pair ; and if you were to behold me driving out, furred up to
the moustache, with furs on the coach-boy and on the driver, and
with an immense white, red, and yellow striped rug for a covering,
you would suppose me to be of Hungarian or Polish nationality.
Dolby sends his kindest regards. He is just come in from our
ticket sales, and has put such an immense untidy heap of paper
money on the table that it looks like a family wash. He hardly
ever dines, and is always tearing about at unreasonable hours.
My best love to your aunt (to whom I will write next), and to
Katie, and to both the Charleys, and all the Christmas circle, not
forgetting Chorley, to whom give my special remembrance. You
may get this by Christmas Day. We shall have to keep it travel-
ling from Boston here.
WESTMINSTER HOTEL, IRVING PLACE, NEW YORK CITY,
Monday, Sixteenth December, 1867.
We have been snowed up here, and the communication
with Boston is still very much retarded. Thus we have received
no letters by the Cunard steamer that came in last Wednesday,
and are in a grim state of mind on that subject.
Last night I was getting into bed just at twelve o'clock, when
Dolby came to my door to inform me that the house was on fire
(I had previously smelt fire for two hours). I got Scott up
directly, told him to pack the books and clothes for the readings
first, dressed, and pocketed my jewels and papers, while Dolby
stuffed himself out with money. Meanwhile the police and fire-
men were in the house, endeavouring to find where the fire was.
For some time it baffled their endeavours, but at last, bursting
out through some stairs, they cut the stairs away, and traced it to
its source in a certain fire-grate. By this time the hose was laid
all through the house from a great tank on the roof, and everybody
turned out to help. It was the oddest sight, and people had put
the strangest things on ! After a little chopping and cutting with
axes and handing about of water, the fire was confined to a dining-
room in which it had originated, and then everybody talked to
everybody else, the ladies being particularly loquacious and cheerful.
And so we got to bed again at about two.
The excitement of the readings continues unabated. They are
a wonderfully fine audience, even better than Edinburgh, and
almost, if not quite, as good as Paris.
Dolby continues to be the most unpopular man in America
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 649
(mainly because he can't get four thousand people into a room
that holds two thousand), and is reviled in print daily. Yesterday
morning a newspaper proclaims of him: "Surely it is time that
the pudding-headed Dolby retired into the native gloom from
which he has emerged." He takes it very coolly, and does his
best. Mrs. Morgan sent me, the other night, I suppose the finest
and costliest basket of flowers ever seen, made of white camellias,
yellow roses, pink roses, and I don't know what else. It is a
yard and a half round at its smallest part.
BOSTOX, Sunday, Twenty-second December, 1867. Miss
Coming here from New York last night (after a detestable Hogarth -
journey), I was delighted to find your letter of the sixth. I read
it at my ten-o'clock dinner with the greatest interest and pleasure,
and then we talked of home till we went to bed.
When we got here last Saturday night, we found that Mrs.
Fields had not only garnished the rooms with flowers, but also
with holly (with real red berries) and festoons of moss dependent
from the looking-glasses and picture frames. She is one of the
dearest little women in the world. The homely Christmas look of
the place quite affected us. Yesterday we dined at her house,
and there was a plum-pudding, brought on blazing, and not to be
surpassed in any house in England. There is a certain Captain
Dolliverj belonging to the Boston Custom House, who came off in
the little steamer that brought me ashore from the Cuba. He
took it into his head that he would have a piece of English mistle-
toe brought out in this week's Cunard, which should be laid upon
my breakfast -table. And there it was this morning. In such
affectionate touches as this, these New England people are
As a general rule, you may lay it down that whatever you see
about me in the papers is not true. But although my voyage out
was of that highly hilarious description that you first made known
to me, you may generally lend a more believing ear to the Phila-
delphia correspondent of The Times. I don't know him, but I
know the source from which he derives his information, and it IB a
very respectable one.
Did I tell you in a former letter from here, to tell Anne, with
her old master's love, that I had seen Putnam, my old secretary ,'
Grey, and with several front teeth out, but I would have known
him anywhere. He is coming to " Copperfield " to-night, accom-
panied by his wife and daughter, and is in the seventh heaven at
having his tickets given him.
Our hotel iu New York was on fire aynin the other night.
650 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
But fires in this country are quite matters of course. There was
a large one there at four this morning, and I don't think a single
night has passed, since I have been under the protection of the
Eagle,* but I have heard the fire-bells dolefully clanging all over
My love to all, and to Mrs. Hulkes and the boy. By-the-bye,
when we left New York for this place, Dolby called my amazed
attention to the circumstance that Scott was leaning his head
against the side of the carriage and weeping bitterly. I asked
him what was the matter, and he replied : " The owdacious treat-
ment of the luggage, which was more outrageous than a man
could bear." I told him not to make a fool of himself; but they
do knock it about cruelly. I think every trunk we have is already
I must leave off, as I am going out for a walk in a bright sun-
light and a complete break-up of the frost and snow. I am much
better than I have been during the last week, but have a cold.
WESTMINSTER HOTEL, IRVING PLACE, NEW YORK CITY,
Thursday, Twenty-sixth December, 1867.
I got your aunt's last letter at Boston yesterday, Christmas
Day morning, when I was starting at eleven o'clock to come back
to this place. I wanted it very much, for I had a frightful cold
(English colds are nothing to those of this country), and was
exceedingly depressed and miserable. Not that I had any reason
but illness for being so, since the Bostonians had been quite
astounding in their demonstrations. I never saw anything like
them on Christmas Eve. But it is a bad country to be unwell
and travelling in ; you are one of say a hundred people in a heated
car, with a great stove in it, and all the little windows closed, and
the hurrying and banging about are indescribable. The atmosphere
is detestable, and the motion often all but intolerable. However,
we got our dinner here at eight o'clock, and plucked up a little,
and I made some hot gin punch to drink a merry Christmas to
all at home in. But it must be confessed that we were both very
dull. I have been in bed all day until two o'clock, and here I am
now (at three o'clock) a little better. But I am not fit to read,
and I must read to-night. After watching the general character
pretty closely, I became quite sure that Dolby was wrong on the
length of the stay and the number of readings we had proposed in
this place. I am quite certain that it is one of the national
peculiarities that what they want must be difficult of attainment.
I therefore a few days ago made a coup d'etat, and altered the
" Eagle " Fire Insurance Office.
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 651
whole scheme. There has been a great storm here for a few days,
and the streets, though wet, are becoming passable again. Dolby
and Osgood are out in it to-day on a variety of business, and left
in grave and solemn state. Scott and the gasman are stricken
with dumb concern, not having received one single letter from home
since they left. What their wives can have done with the letters
they take it for granted they have written is the stormy speculation
at the door of my hall dressing-room every night.
If I do not send a letter to Katie by this mail, it will be
because I shall probably be obliged to go across the water to
Brooklyn to-morrow to see a church, in which it is proposed that
I shall read ! ! ! Horrible visions of being put in the pulpit already
beset me. And whether the audience will be in pews is another
consideration which greatly disturbs my mind. No paper ever
comes out without a leader on Dolby, who of course reads them
all, and never can understand why I don't, in which he is called
all the bad names in (and not in) the language.
We always call him P. H. Dolby now, in consequence of
one of these graceful specimens of literature describing him as the
I fear that when we travel he will have to be always before
me, so that I may not see him six times in as many weeks.
However, I shall have done a fourth of the whole this very next
I managed to read last night, but it was as much as I could
do. To-day I am so very unwell, that I have sent for a doctor ;
he has just been, and is in doubt whether I shall not have to stop
reading for a while.
WESTMINSTER HOTEL, IRVING PLACE, NEW YORK, Miss
Monday, Thirtieth December, 18(57.
I am getting all right again. I have not been well, been
very low, and have been obliged to have a doctor ; a very agree-
able fellow indeed, who soon turned out to be an old friend of
Olliffe's.* He has set me on my legs and taken his leave "pro-
fessionally," though he means to give me a call now and then.
No news here. All going on in the regular way. I read in
that church I told you of, about the middle of January. It is
wonderfully seated for two thousand people, and is as easy to
speak in as if they were two hundred. The people are seated in
pews, and we let the pews. I stand on a small platform from
* Dr. Fordyce Barker.
652 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
which the pulpit will be removed for the occasion ! ! I emerge
from the vestry ! ! ! On Friday next I shall have read a fourth of
my whole list, besides having had twelve days' holiday when I
first came out. So please God I shall soon get to the half, and
so begin to work hopefully round.
I suppose you were at the Adelphi on Thursday night last.
Nothing is' being played here scarcely that is not founded on my
books " Cricket," "Oliver Twist," "Our Mutual Friend," and I
don't know what else, every night. I can't get down Broadway
for my own portrait; and yet I live almost as quietly in this
hotel, as if I were at the office, and go in and out by a side door
just as I might there.
I shall be curious to know who were at Gad's Hill on Christmas
Day, and how you (as they say in this country) " got along." It
is exceedingly cold here again, after two or three quite spring
Ever your affectionate Father.
CHARLES DICKENS remained in America through the whiter, re-
turning home from New York in the Russia, on the Nineteenth of
April. His letters show how entirely he gave himself up to the
business of the readings, how severely his health suffered from the
climate, and from the perpetual travelling and hard work, and yet
how he was able to battle through to the end. These letters are
also full of allusions to the many kind and dear friends who contri-
buted so largely to the pleasure of this American visit, and whose
love and attention gave a touch of home to his private life, and left
such aifection and gratitude in his heart as he could never forget.
Many of these friends paid visits to Gad's Hill ; the first to come
during this summer being Mr. Longfellow, his daughters, and Mr.
Appleton, brother-in-law of Mr. Longfellow, and Mr. and Mrs.
Charles Eliot Norton, of Cambridge.
For the future, there were to be no more Christinas numbers
of "All the Year Round." Observing the extent to which they
were now copied in all directions, Charles Dickens supposed them
likely to become tiresome to the public, and so determined that in
his journal they should be discontinued.
While still in America, he made an agreement with the Messrs.
Chappell to give a series of farewell readings in England, to com-
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS. 653
mence in the autumn of this year. So, in October, Charles Dickens
started off again for a tour in the provinces. He had for some
time been planning, by way of a novelty for this series, a reading
from the murder in " Oliver Twist," but finding it very horrible,
he was fearful of trying its effect for the first time on a public
audience. It was therefore resolved, that a trial of it should be
made to a limited private audience in St. James's Hall, on the
evening of the Eighteenth of November. This trial proved
eminently successful, and " The Murder from Oliver Twist "
became one of the most popular of his selections. But the
physical exertion it involved was far greater than that of any of
his previous readings, and added immensely to the excitement and
exhaustion which they caused him.
One of the first letters of the year from America is addressed
to Mr. Samuel Cartwright, of surgical and artistic reputation, and
greatly esteemed by Charles Dickens, both in his professional
capacity and as a private friend.
The letter written to Mrs. Cattermole, in May, tells of the
illness of Mr. George Cattermole. This dear old friend, so associ-
ated with Charles Dickens and his works, died soon afterwards,
and the letter to his widow shows that Charles Dickens was
exerting himself in her behalf.
We make use of the very short note addressed to Mr. John
Everett Millais, R.A.,* because it is the only one he has been able
to find for us.
Mr. Serle, a dramatic author, was acting-manager of Covent
Garden Theatre in 1838, when his acquaintance with Charles
Dickens first began. The letter to Mr. Serle is in answer to some
questions as to the subject of the extension of copyright to the
The play of " Xo Thoroughfare '' having been translated into
French under the title of " L'Abime," Charles Dickens went over
to Paris to be present at the first night of its production.
On the Twenty-sixth of September, his youngest son, Edward
Bulwer Lytton (the " Plorn " so often mentioned), started for
Australia, to join his brother Alfred Tennyson, who was already
established there. It will be seen by his own words how deeply
and how sadly Charles Dickens felt this parting. In October of
this year, his son Henry Fielding entered Trinity Hall, Cambridge,
as an undergraduate.
Mr. J. C. Parkinson, to whom a letter is addressed, was at
that time holding a Government appointment, and contributing
largely to journalism and periodical literature.
* Xow Sir John Millais, Bart.
654 LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS.
WESTMINSTER HOTEL, IRVINO PLACE, NEW YORK,
Friday, Third January, 1868.
MY DEAREST GEORGY,
To-night, I read out the first quarter of my list. It seems
impossible to devise any scheme for getting the tickets into the
people's hands without the intervention of speculators. The people
will not help themselves ; and, of course, the speculators and all
other such prowlers throw as great obstacles in Dolby's way (an
Englishman's) as they possibly can. He may be a little injudicious
into the bargain. Last night, for instance, he met one of the
" ushers " (who show people to their seats) coming in with Kelly.
It is against orders that anyone employed in front should go out
during the readings, and he took this man to task in the British
manner. Instantly the free and independent usher put on his hat